Tuesday, June 17, 2014

University Libraries's Innovation and Enrichment Grant Will Support Access to Oral History Recordings

University Archivist Erin Lawrimore has been awarded the UNCG University Libraries’ Innovation and Enrichment Grant for 2014-2015. Her project will focus on enhancing access to oral history recordings conducted by staff of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) as part of the UNCG Institutional Memory Project.

SCUA has a long tradition of conducting and preserving oral history interviews with faculty, administrators, students, and alumni from across the University’s history. These interviews, which typically are an hour or more in length, provide in-depth information about an interviewee’s contributions to and viewpoint on specific time periods or events in campus history. A recent focus has been on documenting the experiences of African American students during the 1960s and 1970s. Often these interviews provide valuable personal insight into history in a way that the official university records cannot.

Currently, access to these oral histories is provided primarily through the interview transcript (the word-for-word text of the interview). Audio recordings are available on CD if requested, but access to these recordings is not provided online. The transcripts are among the highest ranked downloads from across the University Libraries’ digital collections, yet the process of finding relevant information within the transcripts is often challenging due to their lengthy nature.

This project will develop a workflow and test open-source tools for providing access to the audio recordings online and time-synching the audio recordings to the existing transcripts. This will allow researchers to more readily search each oral history recording for relevant information and quickly skip to certain key topics discussed in the interview. At the conclusion of the project in June 2015, it is anticipated that at least 25 enhanced oral history audio recordings and accompanying transcripts will be made available to researchers online.

Created by Dean Rosann Bazirjian in 2009 and first awarded in 2010, the objective of the Innovation and Program Enrichment Grant is to provide one-time funding of up to $2,500 for projects that will innovatively enhance and expand library services and programs.